Filing a property insurance claim in Florida on your home or business? You’re not alone, as natural disasters make property-insurance claims a reality for thousands of property owners in Florida each year. But don’t worry: Whether it’s a homeowners claim, condo claim, renters claim, or commercial property claim, we’ve got you covered with the laws and deadlines you need to know to successfully navigate your claim.
In this article, we’ll focus on seven key legal deadlines that apply to you or your insurance company in a Florida property claim. Some of these legal deadlines are bright-line rules that are critical to the outcome of your claim. Other deadlines are subject to exceptions that make them a little mushier. Either way, you’ll want to understand these deadlines so you can be on top of your claim and get it closed fully, fairly, and fast.
This article is specific to Florida. If you’re looking for more general guidance on dealing with a claim, including step-by-step instructions and pro tips, check out our Ultimate Guide to a Property Insurance Claim. On the other hand, if you want to learn more about Florida insurance claim laws, you may want to peruse our Florida Guide to Property Insurance Claims.
Your Deadline to File a Property Insurance Claim
In Florida, you have up to one year from the date of loss to file a new or reopened property insurance claim. If you are filing a supplemental claim, the deadline extends to 18 months from the date of loss. Section 627.70132, Florida Statutes. “Property insurance claim” means almost any kind of insurance claim for damage or loss to real estate or personal property other than liability claims or title insurance. So a homeowner claim, a commercial property claim, a condo claim, a renter claim, a landlord claim, or virtually any other non-liability claim on covered property — they all must be filed within either one year (for new and reopened claims) or 18 months (supplemental claims) from the date of loss.
What’s the difference between a “reopened” claim and a “supplemental” claim? Fortunately, Florida law gives us an answer:
- “Reopened claim” means a claim that an insurer has previously closed, but that has been reopened upon an insured’s request for additional costs for loss or damage previously disclosed to the insurer.
- “Supplemental claim” means a claim for additional loss or damage from the same peril which the insurer has previously adjusted or for which costs have been incurred while completing repairs or replacement pursuant to an open claim for which timely notice was previously provided to the insurer.
The statute also clarifies that for claims resulting from weather-related events, “the date of loss is the date that the hurricane made landfall or the tornado, windstorm, severe rain, or other weather-related event is verified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.” Finally, the statute provides that these deadlines toll (are put on pause) for U.S. military service members “during any term of deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting which materially affects the ability of a named insured . . . to file a claim . . . .” Section 627.70132, Florida Statutes.
The Insurer’s Deadline to Acknowledge Your Insurance Claim
In Florida, an insurance company should acknowledge a homeowners or other residential property claim within 7 days of receiving your notice of loss, barring any extenuating circumstances. Section 627.70131(1), Florida Statutes.
As soon as you think the amount of damage or loss to your property exceeds your deductible, you should notify your insurance company. This notice (which insurers call a First Notice of Loss, or FNOL) starts the insurance company’s claims process — thus, notice of a loss and “filing a claim” usually mean the same thing. Prompt notice of loss is also required under your policy. What’s more, the notice triggers several of the Florida insurer deadlines covered in this article. It’s also easy to do — an email (best) or a phone call (okay) to your Florida insurance company (see here for contact list), will do. For all these reasons, notifying your insurer about a loss is the first or second thing we recommend you do after the loss occurs. Remember, the sooner you notify your insurer about a loss, the sooner you can get your claim paid and closed.
A few other points about this deadline are worth noting:
- This 7-day acknowledgement deadline applies to all communications with your insurer about your claim, not just your initial notice of loss.
- The deadline applies only to residential claims (so, mainly homeowners claims).
- The statute does not require that the insurance company substantively address your communication, only that it acknowledge receipt of the communication.
- The statute also does not require that the insurer reply in writing, although it does mandate adjusters to record non-written responses in their claim file.
- The statute excuses late responses by the insurance company if it pays within that period or “factors beyond the control of the insurer” apply. We discuss this exception in more detail below.
- The deadline does not apply if you’re represented by an attorney. That said, the language of the statute does not require that the communication come from you (the insured), so the insurance company’s 7-day response deadline presumably does apply to communications made on your behalf, like those from an attorney, claim advocate, or public adjuster.
The Insurer’s Deadline to Begin Investigating Your Insurance Claim
In Florida, an insurance company should begin investigating a homeowners or other residential property claim within 7 days of receiving your written proof of loss. Section 627.70131(3)(a), Florida Statutes.
This is the first deadline on our list that is based not on when you file your claim, but when you submit a sworn proof of loss. This distinction is critical. The requirements for submitting a valid notice of loss are fairly minimal — a few sentences explaining what happened to your property in an email to your insurer will usually be sufficient. A proof of loss, on the other hand, is a written document in a specific form that you must sign and notarized. You also need to attach documents to your proof of loss explaining your losses and the cost of your repairs in detail — usually with inspections, contractor estimate(s), or similar paperwork. But it’s also a powerful tool for moving your claim along, which is why we recommend submitting one to your insurance company on any significant property claim.
For a Florida-compliant proof of loss form, you can download our free Florida proof of loss form.
As always, this deadline comes with exceptions and caveats. First, there’s the “factors beyond the control of the insurer” exception, which applies to this deadline and which we cover in detail below. Second, the deadline doesn’t apply if your policy or law provides otherwise — that is, if the deadline were to conflict with Florida law or a term in your policy. We’re not aware of any law that would conflict, but it’s possible your policy does. Lastly, don’t forget this deadline applies only residential claims.
The Insurer’s Deadline to Inspect Your Property
For any residential insurance claim in Florida, the insurer must inspect your property within 30 days of receiving your written proof of loss. Section 627.70131(3)(b), Florida Statutes.
This is yet another reason it’s worth your time to file a good proof of loss (POL). Not only does submission of a POL trigger a 7-day deadline for your insurer to begin investigating your claim, it sets a 30-day deadline to inspect your property. That’s huge! For almost any claim involving damage to property, an insurance company isn’t going to even consider paying until it can verify the damage and expected repairs through an inspection.
Although this deadline is limited to residential claims, it does have the virtue of not being subject to the “beyond the control of the insurer” exception we see in all the other Florida deadlines. So no ifs, ands, or buts! If you file a proof of loss on a residential claim in Florida, your insurer must inspect your property, regardless of the circumstances.
Your Deadline to Submit a Proof of Loss
This one is a little tricky. The deadline for submitting a proof of loss on a Florida property claim is set by your insurance policy, not state law. Unlike some states (such as Georgia), Florida law doesn’t dictate a specific timeframe for filing a proof of loss. But your insurance policy does. Check your policy to learn what that period is; it’s often 60 days from when your insurance company requests that you submit a proof of loss. But remember, you can submit a proof of loss even when your insurance company doesn’t ask for it. So you don’t risk missing the deadline — if your claim is significant or complex, submit a proof of loss as soon as you know the cost of repairs or replacement.
The Insurer’s Deadline to Pay or Deny Your Claim
This is a big one. Once you give notice of a property claim in Florida, your insurance company has 60 days to pay or deny your claim — unless “factors beyond the control of the insurer” prevent payment. Section 627.70131(7)(a), Florida Statutes. If your insurance company does deny payment, it has to explain why, in writing. More specifically, the insurance company must: “provide a reasonable explanation in writing to the policyholder of the basis in the insurance policy, in relation to the facts or applicable law, for the payment, denial, or partial denial of a claim. If the insurer’s claim payment is less than specified in any insurer’s detailed estimate of the amount of the loss, the insurer must provide a reasonable explanation in writing of the difference to the policyholder.” Section 627.70131(7)(a), Florida Statutes.
What separates this Florida deadline from the others is that it comes armed with a penalty: statutory interest. Under Florida law:
Any payment of an initial or supplemental claim or portion of such claim made 60 days after the insurer receives notice of the claim, or made after the expiration of any additional timeframe provided [by] an order of the office finding factors beyond the control of the insurer, whichever is later, bears interest at the rate set forth in s. 55.03.Section 627.70131(7)(a), Florida Statutes.
So if your insurance company doesn’t pay you what’s owed on your claim within 60 days of your initial notice of loss (or longer if Florida regulators find a valid reason for delay), then your insurance company will have to pay you both what’s owed under your policy plus statutory interest. What’s more, that interest begins to accrue not at the 60-day deadline but when you first gave notice of the claim.
The other important piece for this 60-day pay-or-deny deadline is that it applies to more than just residential claims. It also applies to:
- A claim for structural or contents coverage under a commercial property insurance policy if the insured structure is 10,000 square feet or less; or
- A claim for contents coverage under a commercial tenant policy if the insured premises is 10,000 square feet or less
The deadline does not, however, apply to claims under an insurance policy covering nonresidential commercial structures or contents in more than one state. Section 627.70131(7)(b), Florida Statutes.
The Insurer’s Deadline to Make Payment on a Settled Claim
Once you settle a property insurance claim in Florida, the insurance company has 20 days to deliver payment to you. There is one wrinkle to this deadline. If your settlement is preconditioned on signing a release, then the 20-day deadline doesn’t start until the insurer receives the signed release. Section 627.4265, Florida Statutes.
What Does “Factors Beyond the Control of the Insurer” Actually Mean?
Over and over, we saw that a Florida insurance company could be excused from missing its statutory deadline when “factors beyond the control of the insurer” prevent timely performance. Although this language seems mushy and prone to subjective interpretation, it’s really not. As part of the 2022 overhaul of Florida insurance laws, the Florida legislature amended state statute to clarify that this exception can apply only in the following circumstances:
- The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (FLOIR) issues an explicit order extending these deadlines. Such an order can occur only for a state of emergency declared by the Florida governor, a breach of security, or an “information technology issue.” In addition, FLOIR cannot extend the 60-day pay-or-deny deadline for more than 30 additional days.
- Actions you (the policyholder) take that constitutes fraud, lack of cooperation, or intentional misrepresentation about the claim — and those actions reasonably prevent the insurer from complying with a deadline..
For the most part, these limitations are helpful in reducing uncertainty and subjectivity in any extension of a Florida insurer’s claim-response deadlines.
Understanding and adhering to these deadlines can significantly influence the outcome of your property insurance claim in Florida. The deadline to file a claim is particularly unforgiving, so be sure to file your claim early. And remember, the sooner you file your claim and submit a proof of loss, the more likely you are to resolve your claim fully, fairly, and fast.